Revenge Review: ABC's New Drama Serves Sweet Vengeance With A Side Of Mystery

Summer may be over, but things are just beginning to heat up in ABC’s new drama series Revenge. Set in the Hamptons, the series is poised to become a true guilty pleasure, should the show live up to the intrigue offered in the pilot. As the opening monologue states, “This is not a story about forgiveness.”

Created by Mike Kelley, Revenge twists soapy drama around a mystery and at the center is Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp), a seemingly pleasant, beautiful woman who has chosen to surround herself with other beautiful, wealthy people as she rents a house on the beach on Long Island. While she appears to blend in well among society’s elite Emily has a score to settle, and with good reason too. Her motivations for vengeance are explained as the episode progresses.

Revenge’s premiere episode begins at a party where something terrible happens, after which the episode goes back in time to the day Emily arrived in the Hamptons. From there, the pilot manages to work the character introductions, Emily’s extremely relevant back-story and family history, and her first bit of exacted revenge into the hour-long episode.

We’re introduced to Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe), a gorgeous, wealthy, and socially powerful woman whose word and opinion goes a long way. Her husband Conrad (Henry Czerny) is also powerful and extremely wealthy, though it seems as though Victoria may have the upper hand in the relationship. Their son Daniel (Josh Bowman) is immediately attracted to Emily and completely unaware of her motives. The last Grayson is Charlotte (Christa B. Allen). She’s as beautiful and privileged as the rest of her family.

Among the non-rich characters entering into Emily’s life are Nolan (Gabrielle Mann) and Jack (Nick Wechsler). Both men have ties to Emily’s past, which are revealed in the premiere. While Emily appears to be set to pair up with Daniel Grayson, it might not be a stretch to guess that there could be something romantic on the horizon for her and Jack.

A series like Revenge is likely to be an escape for anyone who lacks a house in the Hamptons and formal galas to attend. However, if a rich-people-with-problems premise isn’t enough to hold your attention, Emily’s thought-out scheme to pay back the people who wronged her family just might. Through flashbacks, we’re given just enough information about what she had, what she lost and who is to blame, to understand why she’s doing what she’s doing and to want to see her succeed. At the same time, there’s a lot left to find out, which could make the series worth watching beyond the first few episodes. All the while, the first few minutes of the series premiere, which show how the summer is going to end, linger in the back of our minds as we’re left to wonder how things got to that point.

While Stowe delivers a performance that balances grace, confidence and just enough intimidation to understand why people look at and to her the way they do, VanCamp plays Emily in such away that it’s not quite clear just how far she’s willing to go to pay back the people who wronged her.

Revenge feels like it should be a summer series. Not only is it set in a summer town during peak season, but the soapy element lends itself to a series that indulges in the drama of a wealthy people with a lot of self-inflicted problems. With warmer days behind us, Revenge may offer a bit of mystery and intrigue, and plenty of fun, should the series manage to continue building on the momentum of the series premiere.

Revenge premieres Wednesday, September 21 at 10:00 p.m. on ABC.

Kelly West
Assistant Managing Editor

Kelly joined CinemaBlend as a freelance TV news writer in 2006 and went on to serve as the site’s TV Editor before moving over to other roles on the site. At present, she’s an Assistant Managing Editor who spends much of her time brainstorming and editing feature content on the site.